Meningococcal W vaccine available for older teens

PHS Keep Calm Meningococcal

A free meningococcal W vaccination program will be offered in Tasmania for older teens aged 15 to 19 years during school term three of 2017.

Meningococcal W has increased significantly across Australia in the last two years, with Tasmania having a higher rate of disease than other states.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but severe infection that can cause lifelong disability in up to 20 per cent of cases and death in five to 10 percent of cases.

Ten per cent of healthy individuals carry the meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat.

Older teenagers are particularly at risk of carrying and transmitting the bacteria to others.

The bacteria cannot survive outside the body and does not spread easily from shared drinks, food or cigarettes.

Tasmania joins New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia in implementing a meningococcal W vaccination program for older teens in 2017 and 2018.

Under the new program more than 33 000 15-19-year-old Tasmanian teens will be eligible to receive a four-antigen vaccine, which will provide protection against meningococcal A, C, W and Y strains.

The program will begin during term three of 2017 for students in Year 10, 11 and 12 in public, private and Catholic high schools and colleges.

For older teenagers who have left school to attend further education, training or work, the free vaccine will be available from their GP from 1 August 2017 to 30 April 2018.

The program will continue in 2018 with Year 10 students in high school receiving the vaccine in term one.

The Department is liaising with schools and councils to progress implementation of the program.

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